Small Worlds

Indie Game Spotlight, at the moment, is an irregularly schedualed feature where I highlight an independantly funded and created game. Each game will be one worth taking a look at as abreak from the usual AAA and other studio made titles. These games need all the visibility they can get and I’d like to do my part for those I think deserve a look. (I hope to have the time to make this a weekly feature.)

Small Worlds is an indie entrant into the Causal Gameplay design 6th challenge, going on right now. The competition’s deadline was October 18th and it has been up since then. The compition’s  parameters are as follows:

Design a game that incorporates our theme (see below). It doesn’t have to be complex nor large in scope. Since you will have just 6 weeks to complete your design, simple ideas are probably the best way to go. You may use any browser-based technology platformyou are comfortable with (Flash, Unity, Shockwave, Javascript, etc.). If we can embed your finished game file on our competition page, you may use that platform to design and develop your game.

For the 6th Casual Gameplay Design Competition, we are asking for entries designed to incorporate this theme: EXPLORE. You are free to interpret that any way you choose; however, the extent to which your game embodies the theme is left up to the competition judges to decide. Use your imagination and be creative. We will select the best entries submitted to represent the competition just like we have done before. Impress us with your game design and production skills.


With that in mind David Shute created a game that emphasises the theme perfectly and with an increabaly atmophereic resonance. Small Worlds is a platformer that utilizes very old school pixel art design that creates a canvus almost as much as it creates a level. The game did have some issues with the jump button that that the creator did apologize for, saying:

“I’m really sorry the jumping control is so screwy – In an ill-fated attempt to streamline the movement code, I changed the order in which key presses are processed, which had an unintended side effect: ‘Jump’ gets ignored if you’re moving sideways off a ledge or walking down a slope.

I’d really love to be able to upload the fixed version right now, but a deadline’s a deadline – and for better or worse, this is the version I submitted.

As soon as the competition’s over I’ll send Jay the improved version though – It’ll give me a chance to fix some other (minor, cosmetic) problems that slipped through the net too.”

He and all the other contestants were allowed to upload updated versions. Another note, Small Worlds proudly wears the Art Game label, whether or not it was intentional. I don’t wish to spoil anything, but it is an expirience well worth having. The game is work safe. Try and play it in an eviornment where you wont be bothered. The music, by Kevin MacLeod is that good.


I am amazed that Small Worlds took only 6 weeks to make, not because it is brimming with compexity in its code or visual, but rather its concept. The design is subtle and intricate that it is able to draw you in with a few colored blocks and slowly reveal itself . It is so basic and succedes at being art better than most AAA PC and console titles published today. Don’t take that as a negative, art is not the direct opposite of fun or engaging; the two words have nothing to do with each other. The best works are those that are engaging and consumable as well as deep and meaningful. This is one of those games.

David Shute’s Small Worlds

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Eric Swain

A graduate of Boston University, majoring in English and Creative Writing and has spent significant time studying story structure and theory in the mediums of books, film and video games. His articles offer unique perspective on deep game development and design through his eclectic prose. you can find his critical analysis on

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